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Operations Committee discusses fund use for District 518

WORTHINGTON -- The Operations Committee decided Tuesday it will recommend upgrading facilities and purchasing new resources for District 518 at the May 17 Board of Education meeting.

The committee considered a new gym floor at Worthington High School, a revamped parking lot for Prairie Elementary, a new spring floor for the gymnastics team and the tennis court project, a collaborative effort with the city of Worthington.

"The city... is telling us when the kids are dropped off in the morning (at Prairie Elementary), the cars are waiting off on First Avenue," explained Dave Skog, the district's director of management services. "The city doesn't believe it's their problem to fix."

SEH Architecture & Engineering is working on redesigning the parking lot to include a separate drive and drop-off lane, as well as four additional drainage catch basins that will prevent water accumulation. The existing slope on the parking lot is only about 1 percent, Skog explained, which does not allow water to escape fast enough.

"It was two inches deep. I practically had to bring my waders," said John Landgaard, District 518 superintendent, recalling a parking experience at Prairie.

The elementary's parking lot is also bumpy, and combined with the way it retains water, it becomes an icy hazard in the winter for staff and children.

Cost estimates for the project were not yet available Tuesday, but the district has put aside $400,000.

Replacing the original floor of the main gym at WHS, which is more than 50 years old, would cost $87,940, and needs to be done because the existing floor has suffered moisture problems. A new floor would include a humidistat in its center, which would be connected to a fan system under the bleachers that would kick in and blow air beneath the floor whenever the humidistat determined it necessary.

"Had it not been for a moisture problem, we could have sanded that floor another five times," Skog said.

The gymnastics team's 19-year-old floor, located at the Armory, also needs to be replaced.

"On the carpet, which is older than the floor, the backing is sloughing off. It's getting onto the foam, and that's causing the foam not to stay together," explained Joni Reitmeier, District 518 gymnastics coach. "Every time the girls tumble on it, that foam pulls away and it's causing cracks in the floor ... we're talking about a bad safety hazard."

Purchasing a floor used only once at a national tournament would cost $25,000, compared to a new $32,000 floor, and it would likely last 20 years.

The committee will likely recommend the purchase of a used Kawai piano for $2,500 to the Board of Education. New, the piano would cost up to $13,000, and listings for the same model used are typically in the $3,500 to $4,500 range, Skog said.

The tennis court project, a collaboration between the city of Worthington, District 518, the U.S. Tennis Association and businesses, received just one unexpectedly high bid for the project -- $805,505, due to drainage requirements. Revenue put aside for the project totaled $655,000, leaving a gap of $15,505.

Options for the project include leaving out bathrooms, given the proximity to existing restroom facilities, and leaving out lights, which would also reduce costs.

Landgaard also expressed hope that someone would want to purchase the naming rights to the new tennis courts in exchange for a donation. The amount of the donation would be negotiable, he added.

The District 518 Board of Education will further discuss the projects and expenditures and may make final decisions on some of them at its meeting at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at the WHS media center.